Having sat out last year’s free agent class in a determined quest to get under the luxury tax cap and reset their penalties, you can expect that the resource-loaded Los Angeles Dodgers will be big spenders in this year’s historic free agent class.
To that end, there’s little reason to presume that they *won’t* be in on, among others, Bryce Harper. Sure, you can look at the Dodgers’ outfield and say they’re full up, but certainly not any more so than you could say about the Cubs. If a team like the Cubs sees the opportunity to get a generational 26-year-old talent for only money, then you can bet that the Dodgers will be right there, too.
To that end, I found it interesting that Buster Olney reports not only that rival executives are speculating that the Dodgers will be in on Harper, but also this: “[S]ince Andrew Friedman assumed control of L.A.’s baseball operations, his best offers have been four- and five-year deals – so rival execs speculate that if the Dodgers get involved in the Harper bidding, they could aim for a shorter-term deal for a record-setting salary upward of $40 million per year.”
I have a couple immediate reactions to that:
- While it’s true that Friedman’s Dodgers have limited the lengths of their offers, it’s also true that they haven’t pursued a free agent like Bryce Harper. It’s rather conceivable that those kinds of limits will be thrown out the window when it comes to a player like that.
- Given that Harper can probably get an opt out early in his deal, I’m not sure I see any reason for him to take a shorter, high AAV deal. He’s gonna be able to have it both ways – high AAV in the early years, an opt out, and then ALSO a big guarantee on a long-term deal. Heck, he might be able to get that insane $40 million AAV on a 10-year deal anyway if he keeps performing like he has so far this year!
Of course, at least one set of statistically-informed projections have Harper not quite clearing $300 million in his next deal, so I guess I shouldn’t close any door. It’s just that I tend to think he’s going to be in line for something like 12 years and $360 million, with three or four opt outs built into the deal, coming as soon as after the second or third year. I think it could truly be a historic contract is so many senses.